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Which form of writing should be taught?
The most fluent form of writing is cursive writing (Figure 7.5, line 3), where the letters are joined and the pen is only lifted off the paper between words. However, a child who is beginning to write will usually have great difficulty learning this form of writing straight away. It is for this reason that either manuscript writing (Figure 7.5, line 1) or precursive writing (Figure 7.5, line 2) is taught first.
Children with severe writing difficulty are best taught manuscript writing as it is the simplest form of writing. Some of these children will not progress beyond this stage. This need not be a disadvantage as manuscript writing can be legible, is legally acceptable, and can become quite rapid.
Children whose writing difficulty is not so severe are often taught precursive writing rather than manuscript writing. In precursive writing many of the letters end in curved strokes (ligatures). This makes it easier for children to progress to cursive writing later. Another advantage of this form of writing, compared with manuscript writing, is that the ligatures make it easier for the
Figure 7.5 Three forms ofwriting: manuscript (first line), precursive (middle line), and cursive (bottom line).
Figure7.6 When'b' or'p' are preceded by an'o', the ligaturejoins them close to the upper line. When they are preceded by an 'a', the ligature joins them close to the baseline.
child to distinguish between similar letters (such as ‘b’ and ‘d’). This is helpful for children who confuse such letters.
It should be noted that in precursive writing, ligatures are added to the ends of letters, but not the beginnings. This is because the way a ligature joins the beginning of a letter is determined by the letter that precedes it (Figure 7.6). The child should be taught that the ligature belongs to the letter that precedes it.
After a few years, the transition from precursive to cursive writing occurs naturally in many children. Others need to be taught how to join letters, slope their writing slightly to the right, and modify some of the letters, such as ‘b’, ‘p’, and ‘f’, to their cursive forms.
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